Southern Florida growers are expected to harvest 900,000 bushels of avocados during the current season, which lasts from March to the following April. Florida’s crop is “thumbs up so far,” says Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals Inc. ( Courtesy Brooks Tropicals Inc. )

The heat and humidity that tropical avocados crave has shown up right on schedule in South Florida, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Homestead-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

That signals a good crop of the company’s popular SlimCado, the trademarked name for its hydrocooled green-skin avocados.

“Thumbs up so far,” she said describing the crop in late July.

The season is going well, with good supplies and an efficient harvest underway, she added.

Southern Florida growers are expected to harvest 900,000 bushels of avocados during the current season, which lasts from March to April of the following year, according to the Homestead-based Florida Avocado Administrative Committee. That’s about the same volume as last year.

Demand for Florida avocados remains high, Ostlund said.

“We’re seeing a surge of people who are interested in avocados,” she said.

In an industry dominated by the hass variety, Ostlund believes there’s room for various versions of the fruit.

“You don’t just eat one kind of apple, why eat just one kind of avocado?” she asked. 

Some consumers use hass avocados from California or Mexico for guacamole and Florida avocados in their salads, she said.

Florida avocados are larger than the hass variety, and they brown much more slowly, which means dishes can be prepared the night before they’re served, Ostlund said.

They have other advantages, too, she said.

“The naturally higher level of water in that (Florida) avocado actually helps the ingredients to explode with flavor.”

Avocados peak from July to September in Florida, Ostlund said.

During the off-peak season in Florida, they’re imported from the Dominican Republic.

The East Coast and the South are the biggest U.S. markets for green-skin avocados, she said.

Jessie Capote, vice president/owner of J&C Tropicals in Miami, said he added a 50-acre grove to his green-skin avocado program in July, bringing his total acreage to 200.

And he’s not finished yet.

“We are looking for more,” he said.

Growing Florida’s West Indian avocados can be challenging, he said, “but it’s worth the effort.” 

“Our avocado sales and demand are at an uptick.”

The hass avocado may be the “900-pound gorilla,” he said, but the West Indian variety grown in Florida is experiencing an increase in demand as well.

“They are healthier for you,” he said.

They have less fat than other avocados, they’re water based and they’re larger, he said.

“You can feed a family of four with a West Indian avocado,” he said, and it costs the same or less than other varieties.

“The value is two, three or four times more from a serving size standpoint,” he said.

This is “an average year” for green-skins, but the crop was two or three weeks late, he said, and sizing is trending small.

“We didn’t have a lot of rain when we needed it in April and May,” he said. “They didn’t size up as much as they otherwise would have.”

The majority of the fruit will be size 18s, 20s and 24s, he said.

“Otherwise, it looks like a healthy crop for Florida this year.”

The late start was a disappointment for many retailers.

“Our retailers are accustomed to be able to count on them for some of their big ads and promotions in July and August,” Capote said.

It’s not a major setback, though.

“Volume is catching up fast,” he said, “and the fruit is very clean.” 


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